The True Golden Rule
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We all know of the Golden Rule, which says, “Treat others as you would like them to treat you.”
This moral in various forms has been used as a basis for society in many cultures and civilizations.
But where does its foundation lie?
The foundation of this rule is found in this week’s Torah portion Kedoshim, read along with the preceding Torah portion Aharey Mot.
לֹא-תִקֹּם וְלֹא-תִטֹּר אֶת-בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ
וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ
Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but
thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself
I am the LORD.(Leviticus 19:18)
This verse seems to be problematic because without seeking a more profound meaning, it could imply that whenever I love myself enough to purchase something for me, I need to get my friends the same thing too.
With this superficial understanding, it does seem ridiculous, but it this the meaning of the Scripture wanted us to have?
Our sages point out that the Hebrew text actually reflects that you must love your friend just as you would expect him to love you.
In other words, as I would not expect my friend or neighbor to get me anything whenever he gets one for himself, he would not expect me to get him anything I get for myself.
The message of the Scripture is – do not expect any other form or expression of love than you would deliver under the same circumstances.
Loving someone else “as yourself” does not mean you ought to love him as much as you love yourself, but as much as you’d expect him to love you.
This understanding can help us love our friends/neighbors to the extent that we would expect them to do the same for us.
The concluding phrase of Leviticus 19:18, “I am the Lord,” reminds us that we are all God’s children and as such, we are all directly related being part of the same family, and by that relationship, we can expect to love and be loved by the other human beings.
Referring to the verse “love thy neighbour as thyself”, the famous Jewish sage Hillel, replied to a person who asked him for one principle which would encompass all that is written in the Torah:
“Don’t do unto others what you would not want do to you – that is the whole Torah; the rest (of the text in the Torah) is commentary (of this principle), go study it” (Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 31a).
In the current American usage, when someone says “the rest is commentary” he often means “the rest is trivial – less important”.
But as we can see from Hillel’s reply – one should go and profoundly study this “commentary” to understand its full meaning and practice it in his daily life.
Loving others isn’t always easy.
Even loving one’s friends, relatives and neighbors can sometimes be challenging!
These times of the Coronavirus pandemic call us maybe more than ever to practically exercise now the ‘Golden Rule’.
Please share with us your interpretation of the
‘Golden Rule’ by replying to this post.
In the original Hebrew text (Leviticus 19:18) it appears:
וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ
VE’AHAVTA LE’REAKHA KAMOKHA
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself
The literal translation of the word רֵעֲךָ is – your friend
רֵעַ – REA – friend
In the sixth blessing recited during the Jewish wedding, we find the word רֵעִים – friends.
שַׂמֵּחַ תְּשַׂמַּח רֵעִים אֲהוּבִים כְּשַׂמֵּחָךָ יְצִירְךָ בְּגַן עֵדֶן מִקֶּדֶם
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָה מְשַׂמֵּחַ חָתָן וְכַלָּה
SAMEIAKH TESAMAKH REIIM HA-AHUVIM K’SAMEIKHAKHA Y’TZIRKHA B’GAN EDEN MIKEDEM.
BARUKH ATA A-DO-NAI, M’SAMEIAKH KHATAN V’KHALAH.
Grant abundant joy to these loving friends, as You bestowed gladness upon Your created being in the Garden of Eden of old. Blessed are You L-rd, who gladdens the groom and bride.
We wish all of those who have been affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus to come back to normal, healthy life very soon.
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Wishing all of you a peaceful and healthy weekend.
Yoel & Orly
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